This is a story of greed, arrogance and contempt.
The Chief Fire Officer and Executive Director for Communities & Public Protection jobs were combined, just three years ago, to “bring the fire service, community development and regulatory services together to help build safer and stronger communities”. There is nothing to stop Sean Ruth staying in this job, so why this plan? It can only be to get his hands on his fire service pension, but his problem is that Police and Fire Minister Brandon Lewis has banned senior fire officers from getting generous retirement pay-outs and then immediately returning to their jobs.
He and the Chief Executive appear to have cooked up this dodgy and very expensive scheme to get around the Minister’s ban. Sean Ruth continues to run the fire & rescue service, but will just be called Executive Director, and the new ‘Chief Fire Officer’ will, in practice, just be a Deputy dancing to Sean Ruth’s tune. As well as having to pay Sean Ruth’s high salary and generous pension, taxpayers will now also have to pay a new Chief Fire Officer.
Louise Goldsmith & Sean Ruth
Council Leader Louise Goldsmith and Cabinet Member David Barling must have approved this devious scheme, and arrogantly think they can ignore the Minister. If they want to reward Sean Ruth for supporting their false claims, that cuts were ‘improvements’, it should not be at taxpayers’ expense. They also arrogantly assume they will be re-elected and able to instruct Conservative Councillors to approve this disgraceful plan.
It shows contempt for firefighters and Council staff, who must do more, thanks to Council cuts. It shows contempt for Councillors, who were not consulted on this reorganisation at the top. Firefighters knew in January that Sean Ruth would retire this year, so there was no legitimate reason for hushing it up until after the last County Council meeting. It shows contempt for the Minister. Above all it shows utter contempt for the public, who will in no way benefit, but will have to fund this travesty.
“It’s completely unacceptable for fire services to act in this way”.
Brandon Lewis (Minister for Policing and the Fire Service)
Finally, it is completely reckless to upset the Minister who has the final say in whether the Council or Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne will run our fire & rescue service. David Barling repeatedly shows why the service is not safe in his hands, and now this idiotic move. Sadly, Louise Goldsmith and David Barling have now gifted our fire & rescue service to Katy Bourne. They should be ashamed.